R.I.P Network Storage Drive

Over the bank holiday weekend, my Iomega Home Media Network Drive decided to die in a spectacular fashion.

A few weeks ago, I applied a security patch to the device which was meant to fix a few existing issues and increase performance of the device. It seems this might have ‘pushed’ it over the edge.

I originally bought the device back in early 2010 when we were looking for somewhere to keep all the family photos and iTunes library. Walking though PC World one day, I noticed the device on special offer at £99.99. It was a 1TB Network Attached Storage device, with print server and USB port for expansion. A great deal at the time, considering how new 1TB drives were.

It’s been with us through many upgrades on routers and through the large upgrade I did a few months ago, replacing everything with Cisco & Linksys hardware.

After applying the security patch to the device, I noticed that it was slower than normal connecting to the web interface from the internal network. I also noticed all my settings were gone (files were safe on the drive, untouched). This was explained in the upgrade document, and I just took this on the head and set up everything as it once was.

A few days after upgrading, I attempted to connect to the drive and found that it was ‘unavailable’. Assuming that maybe it was just an issue with my machine, I attempted to connect using another machine in the house. No luck. Both the web interface and all the file share connections were dead. Rebooting the device made it jump back into life, and I hurried to the web interface to find some explanation for the problem.

Unfortunately it seems that the device is programmed to empty the log file on reboot. Clever decision number one by Iomega. The web interface reported that my drive was ‘Available’ with a lovely green icon (example below). I assumed it was a small glitch somewhere, and maybe it just needed a reboot.

However, a few hours later the same thing happened again, right in the middle of a file transfer! I rebooted the device once again and it seemed to spring back into life. Still nothing in the error logs about the cause of the problem, so I began to search the net for similar reports. Some people reported that this was caused by a faulty fan or power adaptor, but nothing was definitive. Even reports on the Iomega forum didn’t provide a solution.

A few days later and the device was requiring a reboot every 15 or so minutes. By this time, I was fed up and contacted Iomega support. Unfortunately I was not connected to a rep because the device was out of warranty, and I needed to purchase an extension before they would look at the problem.  I’m not a fan of being ‘forced’ into buying support products. Especially when it’s a closed source product and you can’t do anything yourself to solve the problem.

I decided to look at buying something I could manage myself, which I could use the current 1TB drive with after removing it from the Iomega chasis.

I ordered a HP Proliant Microserver as the drive bays would allow me to use the 1TB disk, as well as a spare 500GB SATA disk I had, and the provided 250GB disk that the server came with.  This would leave one spare bay that I could use in future.

After plugging the drives into the HP server and installing Ubuntu Server on the 250GB drive I noticed a few S.M.A.R.T warnings after booting. Opening the S.M.A.R.T manager I was shocked to find that the 1TB Iomega drive was seconds away from completely failing. The S.M.A.R.T tool showed that approximately 4600 sectors were damaged and that ‘Drive Failure Is Imminent’.

After disabling the SMART warnings, I was able to mount the drive and quickly copy across most of the pictures and files that weren’t included in my latest backup. However, when I started to copy across the music library (around 160GB) the drive totally failed.

It seems that Iomega’s NAS software/firmware does register SMART readings, but just chooses not to show them to the user via the web interface. It also appears the the operating system for the NAS is stored on the same drive that is used for data. File permissions were also an issue mounting the drive, as everything was owned by ‘nobody’.

Looks like I’m going to be spending a lot of time restoring all my music…

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